Back appeals sentencing

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PIKEVILLE - Since his sentencing held last week, a Magoffin man has already issued a notice of appeal.

In January, Howard Harlow Back, 77, of the Lick Branch Community off KY 378, was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone and 12 counts of distribution of Oxycodone after a three-day trial held in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

On November 5, Back was sentenced to 22 years, with 10 years probation to follow and a fine totaled at $521,300. Court records had not been released at press time for the details of his sentencing. He represented himself in Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

Along with his notice of appeal, Back has also requested the Court appoint him an attorney, stating that he was financially unable to obtain counsel. His request was denied, with United States District Judge Amul Thapar stating that according to his presentence investigation report, he is not eligible for court-appointed representation, with his total net worth of $316,904.09 and his total monthly income is $5,465. 

"Back had well qualified counsel and fired him," Thapar's order read. "He chose not to hire new counsel even though he had adequate resources. These resources are more than adequate to provide qualified counsel for his appeal."

Thapar did list that Back is free to refile his motion for counsel, accompanied by an updated financial affidavit. 

A search warrant served at Back’s home on February 29, 2012, by Sheriff Carson Montgomery, UNITE, the DEA and Kentucky State Police resulted in the seizure of a quantity of pills from Florida and other items related to the drug trafficking operation. 

Four other individuals involved in the conspiracy - 27-year-old Jeff Bailey, 51-year-old Matt Bailey Sr., 29-year-old Matt Bailey Jr., and 45-year-old Donald “Donnie” Trusty, all of Magoffin County – had previously pleaded guilty to their part in the operation and, within their plea agreements, signed statements confirming receiving drugs from Back and/or distributing drugs for Back. 

Back is no stranger to the legal system.

In 1991 he was sentenced on a manslaughter conviction and in 2004 he was sentenced on solicitation to murder and facilitation of arson charges. Both cases were in Magoffin County. His previous criminal cases were mentioned by the judge in Tuesday's hearing.

Back is currently being held at the Carter County Jail, in custody for the U.S. Marshalls, according to jail records.